||Haslams Creek flows into Homebush Bay on the Parramatta River. By 1789 the Rose Hill Packet was ferrying people and goods up the Parramatta River, and in the same year a track was begun, three metres wide, hacked through the bush, between Sydney and Parramatta. By 1794, the track was widened and cleared to make it more suitable for carriages. Francois Peron wrote in 1802 that the road between Sydney Town and Parramatta "is almost every where wide enough for three carriages to pass abreast, and bridges have been thrown over such parts of it, as are interrupted by the waters: so that the traveller meets with no obstacle on his journey." (Peron cited in DMR, 1976, p. 9; Coupe, 1988, pp . 30-2; Perumal Murphy, 1989, p. 5) The original line of Parramatta Road may not have crossed Haslams Creek at same location as the current road, but the 1797 alignment probably came close to the current alignment at the site. (Kennedy, 1971, p. 13)
The first grants in the vicinity of today's Homebush, Lidcombe, Auburn and Strathfield area were made in 1793 to a group of free settlers, and the area was subsequently known as Liberty Plains. Samuel Haslam, after whom Haslams Creek is named, received his first 50 acre grant in the area to the north of the Parramatta Road in 1806, and a second small grant to the south of Parramatta Road and east of Haslams Creek. A number of undated maps of the Parish of Liberty Plains show the creek and indicate a 'Haslams Bridge'. (Kennedy, 1971, p. 13). The Creek was formerly known as Hacking Creek.
Industry entered the area early in its history. John Blaxland, brother of the explorer, received a large grant in the Silverwater/Newington area in 1807 and by 1816 he had cleared the land and established a salt works and woollen mill. Newington College and a home for aged women and then the Silverwater Corrective Services Complex succeeded his operations on the site (Kennedy, 1971, p. 13). Land was selected for the Rookwood Cemetery in 1865, and the crematorium in 1925 (Kennedy, 1971, p. 14). Haslams Creek for many years flowed through the holdings of the Sydney Meat Preserving Company Ltd 1876-1965, which dammed the creek, and past the former State Abattoir on Homebush Bay (Auburn Library, Local History Collection, correspondence Edmund Perrin, Local History Librarian; GOL/Lidcombe Oval Sydney Meat Preserving Company Ltd dam on Haslems Creek).
The railway arrived in the Lidcombe district in 1855, with a station opened at Lidcombe in 1859, initially known as Haslams Creek Station. After much debate as to the routing of the line further west, it reached Parramatta in 1860. An additional station was constructed at Auburn in 1877 at the request of land speculators, who then exploited the improvement in access to the area by subdividing and selling land. (Kennedy, 1982, p. 13-4) The Auburn - Lidcombe area experienced a boom in housing construction in the 1920s. A 1928 publication presented Auburn as a 'teeming suburb' with both neat and comfortable homes and towering factory chimneys stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions from Parramatta Road. The industrial development of the area in the 1920s resulted in a constant stream of motor lorries on the area's main roads. Auburn, with Clyde, Granville and Parramatta, remains one of Sydney's most important industrial and commercial centres. The Tooheys Brewery adjacent to the Haslams Creek Bridge to the south of Parramatta Road opened in the late 1970s, replacing the company's breweries at Taverners Hill near Leichhardt and Central Station. (Spearritt, 1978, p. 30,36, 48, 50, 118-21, 162)
The reinforced concrete beam bridge across Haslams Creek was constructed in 1928, in the wider context of increased traffic volumes, weights and speeds on Parramatta Road. The bridge was constructed by the State Monier Pipe and Reinforced Concrete Works as part of a short deviation straightening a kink in Parramatta Road between John Street and Day Street. The bridge was constructed in two parts, probably to facilitate continued traffic access. Light traffic was given access to the crossing after the bridge was completed to assist in consolidating the bridge approaches, which were completed by August 1930. (Main Roads, Vol. 1 No. 11, August 1930, p. 245) In the previous year the same contractors had constructed a 23-foot reinforced concrete culvert 'near Francis Street' in Lidcombe, probably the culvert currently existing a short distance upstream from the bridge. The culvert is situated in the vicinity of the previous alignment of Parramatta Road and may have played a role in facilitating continued traffic access across the creek while the bridge was under construction. (Main Roads, Vol 1 No. 4, January 1930, p. 84)
The Haslams Creek Bridge is one of over 1,000 bridges built by the Main Roads Board cum Department of Main Roads between 1925 and 1940. During that period the Department's engineers adapted existing standards of bridge design to meet the requirements of improved motor vehicle performance - they were generally wider than previously with an improved load capacity. The principal types of bridges constructed during the period were: reinforced concrete beam; concrete slab; steel truss on concrete piers; and timber beam bridges. Concrete was favoured in many instances because it was perceived to be a low maintenance material (DMR, 1976, pp.169, 170). Based on Roads and Maritime Services bridge database records, reinforced concrete beam or girder bridges were the most common form of concrete bridge construction to 1948, with more than 160 extant. They have been very popular in NSW, and elsewhere, providing an efficient and often aesthetically pleasing solution to a wide range of crossing types. Within the general group of beam bridges, the main longitudinal members have had various configurations ranging from a simple set of rectangular beams cast integrally with the deck, through beams with curved soffits, to flat soffit decks where the edge beams also form the bridge parapet or sidewall. These bridges on the state's main roads and highways, constructed to replace high-maintenance and aged timber bridges or open crossings, along with other road improvements, ushered in the age of comfortable motor transport and efficient road transport of goods and produce to which we are accustomed today.
A photograph of the Haslems Creek Bridge was used to illustrate an article, for the general reader, on rigid frame concrete highway bridges in 1932. (Main Roads, Vol. 4 No. 1, September 1932, p. 10)
Haslems Creek, formerly a meandering earth-banked waterway, was channelised in the early 1930s as an Unemployment Relief project supervised by the Department of Public Works. The concrete walls of the channel abut the abutment walls of the bridge, and replaced the small areas of stone pitching originally constructed on the embankments adjacent to the bridge, which can be seen in early photographs such as that in the Main Roads Magazine cited above. (Roads and Maritime Services File 5/12.151,Municipality of Lidcombe, Triennial Report 1932-4, pp. 27-8)
Generally, the bridge has remained in good condition to the present. An inspection of 30th January 1959 reported some cracking, leaks and exposed reinforcement. The bridge was overtopped by water several times in the 1960s, when the levels and flows into in Homebush Bay were affected by the rehabilitation of the bay by the Maritime Services Board. (Roads and Maritime Services File 5/12.151)